IT'S elementary, my dear Watson, as Sherlock Holmes never said after he had some deeper insight into a complicated crime.
The reality of American politics is rarely as elementary as, for example, when Spiro T Agnew had to pack his bags in 1973 after it was discovered that he had received $10,000 in favours in hard cash in the White House as vice president.
A year later, his Republican president, Richard Nixon, followed the same path after the political motives behind the Watergate break-in became clear. Nixon's own secret tapes of conversations in the White House — excluding 18-and-a-half minutes that were deleted — provided ample evidence that he wanted to cover up the crime, including by lying to the FBI.
It cost Nixon his office. The most powerful man in the world was taken out by an ordinary tape recorder.
If this is not elementary, my dear Dr Watson…
Donald John Trump is destroying America's Republican party, the Grand Old Party or the GOP.
He lost the White House in 2020. His toxic influence hindered the party's performance in the 2018 and 2022 midterm elections for Congress.
Last year's underperformance was a turning point for Fox TV's chief architect, the equally Machiavellian Rupert Murdoch. As one of the US's most influential conservative figures, this media mogul had long grown weary of The Don's tactics, of which the Big Lie and the subsequent “Stop the Steal" campaign were the most dangerous, then and now.
After more than 60 court cases without a single piece of evidence that Joe Biden “stole" the 2020 election through foul play at the ballot box, Murdoch wrote to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott: “Trump insisting on the election being stolen and convincing 25% of Americans [of that] was a huge disservice to the country. Pretty much a crime. Inevitably, it blew up on Jan 6th."
This sentiment straight from the horse's mouth that Trump's Big Lie was a crime began gaining traction in the upper echelons of the GOP. Power players and major donors started demanding Trump's reckoning. They began to see him as a burden, a loser.
However, on the ground, the party's foot soldiers still looked to Trump to “Make America Great Again".
Indeed, MAGA is the reason for Donald J's escalation as a political firebrand after the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol in Washington. It's the day when the orange man's supporters — fuelled by Trump-induced testosterone — stormed the seat of government and violently breached it in an attempt to halt the formalisation of Biden as the 46th president.
The Don was unequivocally singled out as the instigator by members of his own party, yet Trump himself pointed the finger at Black Lives Matter, Antifa and “deep state" agents. This was after he had indulged in three hours of TV coverage of the naked violence and chaos in the Capitol; the “holy war" waged in his name.
This is also why, despite pleas from family, friends and colleagues, Trump refused to protect the state he led as commander-in-chief — he was too busy protecting himself. He knew what could lie ahead if his crimes could no longer be concealed behind the shield of the presidency.
As always, it was Trump first, America second.
For the GOP, the dilemma was now that without Trump, it couldn't rely on the continued support of the MAGA voters, and without MAGA another Republican in the White House also seemed unlikely. A party split had to be avoided at all costs.
Trump played along and, backed by the power of MAGA, undertook to bless Kevin McCarthy's bid to become GOP speaker of the House of Representatives. In return, he could help ensure that the ousted president would be pardoned for his role in the events of January 6, 2021; a Faustian pact that aimed to reduce Trump's treason to a mere “riot".
That's why even GOP politicians who despise Trump still publicly defend him. In the MAGA world, the growing list of criminal charges against Trump is presented as further evidence of the covert assault by the “deep state": the law is corrupt; Trump's word is supreme. And the martyr speaks from the cross to which he's been nailed on behalf of MAGA: a rape, a porn star, classified documents, state capture, voter suppression, another lawsuit over “astonishing financial fraud" looming on the horizon.
Nevertheless, Trump remains the MAGA messiah. There's only one person in the GOP who can thwart him, and that person isn't a Never Trumper. It's Trump himself. And that's exactly what has been happening lately. The Cadillac cowboy has increasingly shot himself in the foot.
That's also why he announced his 2024 candidacy so early. Just as he used his presidency to shield himself from prosecution for all his transgressions, Trump wanted to wield the current primary season as a shield to march unscathed to November 5, 2024, with a self-declared pardon to follow if he were to become America's 47th president.
And more. “I am your warrior," Trump recently declared. “I am your justice. I am your retribution." The reason for this is elementary: Trump doesn't want to be tried in a court but in the public forum where a fervent, blind MAGA can absolve him.
That's why he's turning the legal system into a circus and a mockery, just as he has done with the American media, intelligence agencies and the electoral process. In short, Trump is waging war on democracy.
On January 2, 2021, Georgia's secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger, appeared on Fox News to declare that his state's election was legitimate and fair, and that Trump lost. The orange man became apoplectic. He began an hour-long phone call with the secretary of state by asking if Raffensperger realised that Georgia's certified election results were wrong and that he, Trump, had won the state by at least 400,000 votes?
Raffensperger responded that Trump had his “data wrong". One count and two recounts confirmed that Biden was the winner by 11,779 votes. “There's no way I lost Georgia," barked The Don. “The auditors of the process are unqualified or dishonest! Ballots are corrupt! It's a violation of the law for you and your attorney to endorse corruption, Brad.
“Look, all I want to do is find 11,780 votes, because we won Georgia. Guys, I just need 11,000 votes! Give me a break!"
And there you have it. It's all so elementary. Let's abolish elections. Trump can decide for himself who won. Furthermore, his MAGA henchmen and the Trumpian cult group QAnon will ensure that Raffensperger and his wife are bombarded with threatening calls and endless promises of sick sexual assault.
Republican politicians who dare to testify against Trump will experience the same hell, with marches and protests outside their homes, rifles over shoulders, shots in the night, and mafioso tweets such as: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!"
In this manner, the lives of election workers have been ruined. Nancy Pelosi's husband was attacked and seriously injured in their home. More than 1,000 Capitol rebels have been charged, many imprisoned. Six lives were lost as a direct result of the insurrection. Others died in shooting incidents. Vehicles drove into crowds. Right-wing militias threatened civil war.
And all of this in the name of the orange man.
Because if the results of manipulation, deceit and lies aren't enough to satisfy his fragile ego, intimidation and violence become Trump's final solutions.
Before Trump's conversation with Raffensperger, Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, became one of the many Republican officials in several of the so-called swing states who were pressured to overturn Biden's victory. In seven of them, including Georgia, sham electors were even appointed to sign facsimile copies of original electoral college certificates falsely declaring Trump the winner, so that on January 6, 2021, vice president Mike Pence could cast legitimate electoral votes and accept fake votes to keep Trump in power.
But the orange man accused Biden of election theft. Now, Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, has charged Trump and 18 others with attempting to unlawfully undermine the state's 2020 election outcome. Raffensperger's recorded conversation from January 2, 2021, will be crucial evidence. Likewise the video footage, photos, and tweets in special investigator Jack Smith's Capitol case, and testimony from those who were with the US president on that dark day when he incited and unleashed a mob of terrorists to attack the seat of government and cheered them on all the way.
It's treason. On January 6, 2021, Trump disrupted the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power. He tried to strangle democracy.
Afterwards, he left the White House with a trove of classified documents, many marked “top secret". When the National Archive — where the documents belong — requested them, Trump stalled from May to December 2021 before begrudgingly returning boxes to the state.
Even intervention from the Department of Justice and the FBI couldn't convince the former president to swiftly and fairly execute the process. Officials attempting to retrieve documents were denied access to certain ones.
At Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump also ordered security camera footage to be erased — Nixon, here we come! — precisely to eliminate evidence that his personal bodyguard, Walt Nauta, hid boxes from bureau agents (as well as Trump's own attorneys).
And how to make sense of The Don showing secret war documents to individuals without security clearance? Just like Nauta's clandestine activities, it was captured on video.
And here we are now, on the eve of 2024 election season.
Donald Trump is an irredeemable crime machine, and his showdown with the law is entering a decisive phase: one man with a pistol versus a battery of machine guns. To find him guilty seems so elementary, my dear Watson. But it's not. Because there's one place where no tape recorder or camera could whirr or click, and that's inside Trump's head. And the law requires Jack Smith and the rest to prove that Trump knew he was wrong and that it was his intention to deceive with his Big Lie.
Did he know? Of course. He must have known. All his reliable advisers and attorneys told him. Even Trump's handpicked attorney general, Bill Barr, dismissed the orange man's Big Lie as BS (or bullshit). The Don's mind is wired with the extreme vanity of an obsessed narcissist, however. He believes what he wants. This renders him insane and unfit for the presidency.
But try telling that to MAGA. Tell them also that Trump is technically barred from officially serving again under section 3 of the 14th amendment to the constitution because he engaged in “insurrection or rebellion" and gave “aid and comfort" to accomplices.
Legally, the argument is airtight. Politically, it would be catastrophic. America must thus choose: the current elderly resident of the White House or the deceiver on his MAGA cross, facing 91 criminal charges.
Nixon resigned back then. Agnew walked as a free man on condition that he exited politics. Trump will reject both these options. He doesn't just want to be free. He'd rather become a martyr because he so desperately wants to be a hero, even if it's for people who believe his next partner will be John F Kennedy Jr.
By the way, John-John died in 1999. And no, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are not paedophiles who drink children's blood.
In the event of a guilty verdict, The Don would probably get house arrest, but even from home he could wage an election campaign. And heaven help us if he regains the presidency and torpedoes the US constitution by pardoning himself the day after.
That's precisely why the whole saga is a bit less elementary than one might think, Dr Watson. It's actually quite complex and frightening. Moreover, time is running out to try Trump before November 5, 2024.
That's why democracy trembles and quakes. America is approaching a knife-edge.
♦ VWB ♦
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